"In light of [the] expansion of mail-in voting, and the barriers to in-person voting posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Pennsylvanians voting by mail will increase dramatically in the upcoming elections."
PHILADELPHIA (PRWEB) August 24, 2020
van der Veen O'Neill, Hartshorn and Levin, led by firm founder Michael T. van der Veen, has filed suit on behalf of Melvin Prince Johnakin in Pennsylvania federal court to reverse recent U.S. Postal Service operational changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that have slowed mail delivery and raised concerns that mail-in ballots in the upcoming election could go uncounted.
The suit seeks an order that would force USPS to enact measures to make sure mail-in and absentee ballots in Pennsylvania are treated as Priority Mail, which offers delivery between one and three days. In addition, the suit asks for an order that would reverse operational changes including the removal of mailboxes and reduction in staffing hours to help ensure the timely delivery of ballots and other election mail.
Johnakin's viewpoint is clear, "In light of [the] expansion of mail-in voting, and the barriers to in-person voting posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Pennsylvanians voting by mail will increase dramatically in the upcoming elections. However, their ballots will be subject to the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service, thereby causing plaintiffs and many Pennsylvanians who vote by mail to face an impermissible risk of arbitrary disenfranchisement, in violation of their constitutional rights."
Voting is a fundamental right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of qualified citizens to vote in state elections involving federal candidates. Included within the right to vote is the right of qualified voters within a state to cast their ballots and have them counted if they are validly cast.
Johnakin's concerns are urgent. COVID-19 has caused most public gatherings to be curtailed and restricted. Pennsylvania's upcoming elections pose a public health threat. Johnakin maintains that, in order to exercise the fundamental right to vote, many voters have and will utilize all available means to vote by mail rather than in person at a polling place. Advanced planning and proactive measures will be necessary to ensure that voters have sufficient access to vote by mail to preserve and protect the essential right to vote and prevent large-scale disenfranchisement.
The case is Melvin Johnakin v. U.S. Postal Service et al., case number 2:20-cv-04055, before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.